I had a past professor/friend who asked me what we did to train leaders within our student ministry. I thought I’d share with you my most honest answer:
“First of all, we define leadership here at CBSM as: following Christ and bringing others along with you. So, our first focus is to center all of students onto Christ, and then we offer leadership training for those who want to both follow Christ and lead others toward Him. We do this in several different ways of course. First, we do this through preaching. I am convinced that I am called to primarily preach to my 12 grade guys even though there are students present in the room all the way down to 7th grade. I’ve learned that if I focus on my 12th grade guys, then I will reach them and all other students under them. But if I focus on younger students, I will get the younger students back…but I won’t get any of the older students for the most part. So training for leadership first starts through our preaching because preaching is what cultivates a heart for Christ most. We have a very specific system of preaching at CBSM… In 6 years (from 7th – 12th grade) we are preaching through the entire Bible (in order from Genesis – Revelation) and also through all 13 major Christian doctrines (from Doctrine of Christ – Doctrine of End Times). Our preaching is usually 45 minutes long, always Christ-centered, always expository, always grounded in the gospel, and always in your face challenging. That is what we’ve found produces and identifies leaders best.
Second, we train leaders through our small groups. On Sunday mornings, our students discuss what they learned from the worship service preaching on Wednesday nights. Our small groups are divided by grade and gender. Our adult small group leaders simply facilitate their small group with questions from the previous Wednesday night so that it encourages the students to come to the worship service, to listen during the worship service, and to read the assigned passages to prepare for Wed night and Sun morning. Through the small group and facilitation process, our adult small leaders are able to identify student leaders as those who have read the assigned passages, are faithful to Wednesday nights, who are attentive on Wednesday nights, and who speak up in the small groups on Sunday mornings.
Third, we train leaders through challenging all of our students to serve Christ in their church weekly. Our student ministry offers training in spiritual giftedness twice a year. We seek to put all of our students on a student ministry team that best will utilize their gifts in areas such as audio, video, lights, media, facebook, cleaning, drama, puppets, greeting, missions, outreach, editing, praise band, etc. This cultivates a heart within the student to serve Christ before they can lead in the ministry. It keeps them humble and in serving mode while they are learning more about leadership.
Lastly, our most specific training we offer for our students is called KTL. This class/course started about 2.5 years ago when I came to this church, and I noticed there were 3 students who were called to be pastors. That first spring, I trained them in preaching and teaching the Word of God faithfully. The top four preachers preached through 1 Samuel 17. KTL stands for Keyruxon ton Logon which is “Preach the Word” in Greek. We had about 5 guys in total that spring. The next fall we had a KTL course in pure leadership for ministry and the church. We had about 12 guys in involved as we studied the book “Spiritual Leadership” by Sanders together. The next Spring we had around 15 guys sign up and complete the 2nd phase of our preaching class. The top four preachers preached through the book of Judges. The next fall we had about 20 guys in the leadership portion of our KTL class, and we studied the book “Stop Dating the Church” by Harris. We did this to cultivate a love for the church as they learn to lead the church. During that semester, we also added a girl’s KTL course which had about 6 girls for the first go-around. Then finally, this spring we have about 25 guys being trained to teach and preach the Scriptures. The top 4 will preach through the book of Job for our student ministry in the month of April. We have about 15 girls in the female portion, and a few of them will teach the book of Job to our children’s ministry. So all in all, I would have to say that leadership training has become a huge part of our student ministry. It all starts with Step 1: our worship services. It continues in Step 2: our small groups. It enhances in Step 3: our student ministry teams. And then it finalizes in Step 4: our KTL ministry. For whatever reason, God has blessed us with several students who are called into full-time ministry through this in areas such as: missions, senior pastoring, youth pastoring, executive pastoring, army chaplaincy, medical missions, children’s ministry, women’s ministry, etc. I would have to say there are about 15-20 students who are serious about full-time ministry at this time. We don’t press this. I don’t preach hard on this. This is just what God is doing out of His grace in our student ministry.”
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